Putting Public-Private Partnerships to Work
by Madelyn Marconi
Two major projects included in the Gardens
Park Baseball Expansion plans reached completion this summer while another, located at The Gardens North County District Park,started to gain traction. These projects were initiated whenthe City of Palm Beach Gardens entered individual publicprivatepartnerships with the Miracle League of PalmBeach County, Cressey Sports Performance, and PalmBeach North Athletic Foundation, Inc.
WHAT IS A PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP? A public-private partnership, or “P3,” is a collaborative agreement between a government agency and a private sector company. This approach can be used to finance, build, and operate large-scale, long-term projects. Both entities share the common goal of providing a public benefit, whether it is an asset or service, to the surrounding community.
Some may express concern or doubt in allowing a private entity to become widely involved in the long-term (continues)
operation of public assets, but several tangible benefits stem from these types of partnerships. P3s offer direct benefits to the public, accelerated project completion, and reduced costs, which in turn, allows for funds to be allocated elsewhere. P3s also allow the government agency to share the risk and financial burden with the private entity.
The two completed projects at Gardens Park and the upcoming project at The Gardens North County District park are prime examples of how public-private partnerships can simultaneously address operational needs while also providing direct benefits to the community. This new way of doing business may seem unusual, but it is a very realistic way for public and private sectors to collaborate and develop unique projects in the community.
THE MIRACLE LEAGUE OF PALM BEACH COUNTY Several years ago, the Miracle League of Palm Beach County began looking at Palm Beach Gardens as an expansion location when it was discovered many families with special needs children reside in the north county region. The Miracle League, founded in 2005 by Julia and Jeff Kadel, has long provided baseball and cheerleading opportunities for children with special needs. Conversations to unite the City of Palm Beach Gardens and the Miracle League of Palm Beach County as partners began in late 2018.
It was clear the Miracle League’s mission to enrich, expand, and diversify lives clearly aligned with the City’s values for offering diverse programming opportunities, so the parties entered a public private partnership (P3) agreement. An agreement with Nuvo Riverside, LLC – a local Business center in Palm Beach Gardens – also stemmed from the newly formed partnership and provided the City with $350,000 for construction costs of the fields. The remaining funds were covered by monies previously allocated for the City’s baseball expansion project. As part of the agreement, the City of Palm
Beach Gardens maintains the facility while the Miracle League covers all other expenses, including insurance, trophies, uniforms, and pictures.
By April of 2020, construction was complete and included two synthetic turf fields, baseball diamonds made of recycled rubber, and over-sized dugouts, to accommodate athletes who use walkers, wheelchairs, or who are visually impaired. The partnership provided the ability to add new amenities to the City’s award-winning Parks and Recreation Department while the addition of the Miracle League programs expanded the already diverse roster of youth athletic programs available to the community. The City is proud to provide sports facilities that enhance the lives of local children and families.
CRESSEY SPORTS PERFORMANCE In March 2019, Palm Beach Gardens City Council unanimously voted to allow the City to negotiate a public private partnership with Cressey Sports Performance, a high-performance sports training facility based out of Massachusetts. After experiencing obstacles at their Jupiter location, Eric Cressey and his team looked to Palm Beach Gardens as a possible new home for their program. His vision of working with Palm Beach Gardens to build a cutting-edge training facility including covered battings
cages, covered pitching mounds, and a fullsize regulation “showcase” field set P3 plans into motion.
P3s commonly include expertise from different resources coming together to plan and execute a project that directly benefits the public. Both the City and Cressey Sports Performance applied their expertise to keep the project on track for completion. The Gardens Park Baseball expansion project involved a comprehensive team of designers, engineers, and contractors that collaborated to improve infrastructure solutions while simultaneously decreasing project costs. The money saved from this project can be reallocated into a different area.
The addition of Cressey Sports Performance not only provides an exciting opportunity for young athletes to work out alongside professional athletes, but it also contributes to the community’s economic needs as well. Palm Beach Gardens, now considered a sports destination, brings athletes of all levels to train at Cressey’s elite training facility in Palm Beach Gardens. As a welcomed benefit, athletes rent and purchase homes in the community and continue to contribute to the local economy by dining at restaurants, using local services, and shopping at retail stores in the city.
Similar to the Miracle League, the City provides maintenance to the baseball fields
“THIS IS A PARTNERSHIP WITH THE CITY OF PALM BEACH GARDENS AND PALM BEACH COUNTY, BUT IT IS ALSO A PARTNERSHIP WITH THE COMMUNITY. WE WANT TO SHARE THAT PROSPERITY TO ALL OF THE RESIDENTS AND ALL OF THE CONSTITUENTS.” –MICHAEL WINTER
and surrounding amenities, while Cressey Sports Performance focuses on operations. The community gains the benefit of this facility which brings visitors and tourism to our City. There is also a financial benefit to the City as Cressey Sports Performance pays a monthly lease to operate their facility on City-owned land.
The community impact of the Cressey project is already being felt with local athletes taking advantage of the world class training that is available. Cressey trains top, professional athletes across multiple sports while simultaneously strengthening the motivation for young athletes to work hard towards achieving their own success. Long time youth sports planner Tony Badala shares that his son Anthony Badala received a baseball scholarship boosted by workouts he received with trainers in Palm Beach Gardens.
“My son worked out at Cressey with Brian Kaplan as a trainer. Brian spearheaded my son in receiving a Division 1 scholarship to play baseball at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina,” Badala said. “Eric Cressey’s program is what The Citadel bases their program off. I don’t know how you get any better.”
PALM BEACH NORTH ATHLETIC FOUNDATION Another example of a public private partnership took place in March of 2020 when the City of Palm Beach Gardens entered another P3, alongside Palm Beach County with Palm Beach North Athletic Foundation, Inc. The proposed project to construct a 220,000 square-foot “sportsplex” on seventeen acres of land within The Gardens North County District Park was passed by City Council. As a non-profit 501(c) (3) charity purely based on donations, Palm Beach North Athletic Foundation is committed to developing a state-of-the-art facility that will create a lasting legacy and improve the quality of life for everyone by
promoting healthy, active lifestyles through sports. The facility will offer a new variety of sports to the area including squash, ice hockey, fencing, and rock climbing as well as dance and fitness classes, sports camps, and indoor playgrounds.
“The Palm Beach North Athletic Foundation is thrilled to be a partner with City of Palm Beach Gardens. We could not be happier with the relationship we have grown with the City Manager, City Council, and City staff,” P.B.N.A.F. President Michael Winter said. “It’s going to be a big facility, but we need the room to accommodate big dreams, big visions, and big plans.”
As part of the agreement, the Foundation is raising funds to build the $43-million facility and will design, construct, operate, and maintain the sportsplex on City land through a County-approved lease agreement. Through the partnership, the Foundation will bring brand new opportunities to the residents of Palm Beach Gardens and the surrounding northern Palm Beach County communities. Children and families can participate in a variety of new
sports, particularly winter sports, that are typically out of reach for Palm Beach County residents. The indoor facility will provide extra-curricular activities and youth programming for middle and high-school age children, allowing local youth to experience positive social interaction in a safe and comfortable setting.
There is no doubt that the new fields and facilities in Palm Beach Gardens will be used to their fullest extent. Memorable baseball games will be held on the Miracle League fields as top athletes train next door at Cressey Sports Performance. Soon, the doors to the state-of-the-art sportsplex will open and bring the once unusual idea of a public-private partnership to reality. Residents will be the first in line to experience the benefits the new amenities bring and enjoy all the City of Palm Beach Gardens has to offer.
Site of the Future SportsplexGardens North County District Park5101 117th Ct N
For more information,visit www.pbnsportsplex.com